Chapter 9 : Obsessions
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Harry and Hermione practised studiously all through the next day even though they had no means to know how effective their efforts would be.
They broke off for dinner and then sat out in the garden to enjoy the warm evening. The grass was not exactly lush due to lack of watering but it was dry and fairly comfortable.
Harry lay back looking up at the gradually darkening sky while Hermione sat next to him with her legs tucked under herself.
“Harry, have you thought about what we should do after we leave here? I mean, it’s not long until your birthday now.”
“I know,” said Harry, stretching his arms out. “I think we should go to Godric’s Hollow first and see what’s there.”
“Okay, but there may not be much to see.”
“Maybe,” he agreed.
“Your parent’s house was protected by a Fidelius Charm. We may never find it.”
“Well, I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t know if I was even walking when Voldemort attacked, but I think there is a good chance my parents made sure I was told the location by the Secret Keeper even so.”
Hermione turned her head quickly and frowned down at Harry.
“But how will you remember?”
“I’m hoping the Fidelius Charm will enable me to see the house. It’s probably still a ruin, which won’t be too hard to spot. If we can’t find it I was planning on asking Hagrid to show me.”
“Of course! He fetched you that night, didn’t he?”
Harry nodded sadly as Hermione carefully picked a spot next to him and lay back as well.
“Wouldn’t that be a more sensible idea to ask Hagrid to show us anyway?”
“Well, he’ll be busy with the move from Hogwarts.”
“Alastor Moody said he suspected that Hagrid will want to make a stand at Hogwarts,” Hermione reminded him, picking a stray blade of grass from her hair. “Do you think we should see if he still intends to stay?”
“I think he will have every intention of staying,” said Harry with a smile. “Actually, it’s an idea that appeals to me as well. I wonder how many we could pick off before we got caught.”
“Harry! You cannot be serious!” exclaimed Hermione, raising her head up. “Dumbledore entrusted you with a much more important task.”
Harry turned his head and grinned at her and she rolled her eyes, annoyed with herself that she’d believed him.
“Well, we can’t let him face Voldemort alone,” continued Harry. “Maybe we could persuade him that he’ll be doing more by continuing to teach. He can’t doubt that Dumbledore would have wanted that.”
“But you think he will need a little encouragement?”
“I’m sure of it. Hagrid has his pride. Before he’ll leave himself he’ll need to hear it from us - that we know he isn’t going because he’s afraid.”
“Is that all he’s waiting for?”
Harry shrugged and said, “I thought I’d leave the finer points to you, Hermione. You are the expert when it comes to getting Hagrid to do what you want.”
Hermione snorted and turned onto her side to face him.
“How do you think you will feel when we go to Godric’s Hollow?”
“I don’t know,” he replied honestly. “I expect it will feel strange. I don’t expect I’ll actually remember anything.”
“You’ll be closer to your parents than you’ve ever been,” she said quietly.
“I try not to embarrass you with my crying,” he said with a smirk.
Hermione immediately plucked a few blades of grass and threw them at his face. Harry laughed and brushed away the two that had actually reached him.
She sat up and brushed herself down.
“I think I’ll have a shower and turn in.”
“It’s way too early to go to bed, Hermione. It can’t be nine o’clock yet.”
“It’s a little after nine-thirty, actually. Besides, I want to write a couple of letters.”
Harry made a dissenting noise as she got up.
“Goodnight, Harry. Sleep well.”
“You too,” he managed to say before she reached the rear door and disappeared inside.
Harry relaxed and lay back again. The warmth from the sun was gone now but the grass he was lying on still had the heat of the day to warm him. He would stay out here a little longer.
He closed his eyes and listened carefully to the neighbourhood noises that reached him. It sounded like a couple of children were protesting to their mother at being called inside and a baby was crying somewhere in the distance.
Otherwise all he could hear were birds calling.
His ears twitched at a much closer sound. The bathroom window was being opened and made a distinctive rattle as Hermione fumbled with that catch. There was a slight squeak of metal rubbing followed by a clunking sound that told him she was done.
Harry’s thoughts turned again to Hermione.
He had been at a total loss how to get her to tell him what was troubling her. He had twice that day almost come out and demanded to know, but she had introduced a new topic of conversation before he had the chance.
He listened as the rushing sound of water hitting the steel enamelled bath began.
The last thing he wanted was to upset Hermione even more, but he was at a loss to think how he could help her.
He almost hoped that he would pay another, long overdue, visit to see Dumbledore’s memory that night. Not that he would be of much use. Harry was beginning to think of the memory as a very pale imitation of the real thing.
Harry’s nose twitched as the smell of warm, humid air drifted down to him from the open bathroom window, carrying a distinctive scent.
He had no idea what the perfumed shower gel was, but it struck Harry that it was the only evidence he had ever found that Hermione had even been in the bathroom. Harry himself found it almost impossible to remove every single strand of hair from the bath after he had finished bathing, and he had been amazed that Hermione had contrived to leave the bathroom in an even cleaner state than when she entered.
At first he even suspected that Aunt Petunia had been waiting to clean the moment Hermione undid the chrome bolt on the bathroom door.
This proved to be incorrect, however.
Harry blushed furiously in the darkening garden as he remembered the moment it struck him that it was a very strange thing to think; let alone actually look for evidence as he had done. He had tried to convince himself that he didn’t want Aunt Petunia to find anything to complain about, but he was still awfully glad that Hermione wasn’t a Legilimens.
He turned onto his front and realised the ground wasn’t as warm as it was. He would go inside soon, but not for a moment or two.
He blamed Ron for all this.
Before Ron’s brief visit to accuse him and Hermione, he had hardly given a thought to her in that way. Now, however, he could hardly stop himself.
He was sure Hermione knew this, of course. Since Ron’s visit she had hardly touched him; whereas before she hadn’t hesitated to hold his hand or touch his arm to show her support.
Harry sighed deeply and looked around for something else to think about. That way he might at least get inside before dawn, he thought.
He shivered and rolled over before he carefully sat up.
There was another squeak from above and he looked up just in time to see a bare arm pull the bathroom casement closed.
Harry woke with a start and it was moment before he realised where he was. He had fallen asleep at the kitchen table. Harry blinked until his eyes became accustomed to the bright fluorescent lights.
He was surprised that his Aunt hadn’t woken him, but he remembered he had been the last to turn in that night.
Harry got stiffly to his feet and was almost at the door when he remembered his mug of drinking chocolate. Aunt Petunia absolutely hated anything to be left unwashed overnight, so to avoid an argument in the morning he went back over to the sink, pausing only to pick up the offending article from the table.
He poured away the dregs and proceeded to wash the mug in the remaining cold washing up water.
As he did so a sudden coldness came over him. It was a moment before he realised this coldness had nothing to do with the temperature of the air.
Harry dropped the mug and quickly wiped his soapy hands on his shirt before grabbing his wand.
He couldn’t see anything outside but he was sure a Dementor was close. He unlocked the rear door and looked out into the night.
There was nothing that he could see.
Harry was about to step outside when he had an idea. He felt by the door jamb with his free hand until he found the wall switch.
The moment the lights went out he saw it.
The Dementor was floating over in the far corner of the garden with its back to him. It turned slowly to face him.
Harry automatically raised his wand and had every intention of producing his Patronus when someone grabbed his wand arm.
Once he realised it was Hermione, Harry stopped resisting.
“I know what you’re thinking, Hermione, but we didn’t summon this one,” he whispered.
“We must at least try to communicate with them,” she whispered back urgently. “We are only a few feet apart and yet I don’t feel faint at all. I haven’t remembered anything bad yet. All I feel is a little coldness.”
Harry considered getting her a coat or something when the Dementor floated forward. It stopped about ten feet from them, but all Harry was aware of was Hermione’s nervous shaking.
“Hello,” she said, sounding scared but determined. Harry knew she was holding the three things Fudge had told them in her mind.
Harry decided he should make an effort as well.
He looked at the cloaked Dementor and wondered if it was the leader. If it was then it might really be intelligent and capable of talking to them.
“Hello,” he said, but the Dementor did not respond in any way.
“Don’t forget the offering, Harry,” Hermione whispered.
It was a moment before Harry allowed himself to relive the memory of the moment Dumbledore was hit by the killing curse. A wave of emotion hit him and the Dementor lurched forward, closing the gap to barely four feet.
Hermione gasped and grabbed Harry’s arm tightly.
“Harry Potter,” said a low voice in his head.
“Yes,” answered Harry in complete shock. “I can hear you.”
“What?” said Hermione. “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Your friend will not hear us tonight,” said the voice in his head. “Her chosen memory will never be enough to hold our attention while she has a much stronger emotion to give.”
“He says you won’t hear him tonight, Hermione,” said Harry.
Harry turned back to the Dementor and asked, “We wanted to ask you something.”
“No. It is not safe tonight,” said the voice. “We did not intend you to see us this evening. Had you not put those artificial lights out, you would not.”
“Not safe?” repeated Harry.
“Go inside now,” directed the voice. “Call my name tomorrow after dark if you wish, but I cannot enter this dwelling and it may be unsafe for you outside. Ask your friends to help you find a suitable meeting place.”
Harry nodded and said, “Okay.”
The Dementor glided away from them and floated over the fence, vanishing the moment the light from a street lamp hit it.
Harry turned to Hermione who was still staring at the spot the Dementor vanished. He realised she was trembling.
“Let’s go inside,” said Harry gently, taking her arm and guiding her back inside.
Harry switched the lights back on and was alarmed to see how pale Hermione looked. He had intended to talk to her in the living room, but her appearance made him change his mind at once.
He pulled out a kitchen chair and said, “Sit down, Hermione.”
Still staring off into space, Hermione obeyed at once. Harry knelt before her and took hold of her hands. They were as cold as ice so he warmed them in his until she came to herself.
Presently, she looked down at him.
“That wasn’t as easy as Mr Fudge implied,” she said, her voice timid and shaking.
Harry smiled up at her.
“There are a couple of things I should tell you before I forget,” he said.
Hermione forced herself to sit up a little and pay attention.
“The first thing is the strange way he spoke,” explained Harry. “He referred to himself in the plural. You know, he said us instead of me. Otherwise his English was excellent.”
“What did it sound like?”
“It was male and quite deep, although sometimes there was a kind of echo in my head. Do you think there could have been more than one?”
“I don’t know, Harry. What else did he say?”
Harry proceeded to tell her the rest including how the Dementor had said it was unsafe tonight and wanted them to call him tomorrow evening.
“There’s one more thing,” said Harry, who still hadn’t let go of her hands. “He gave a reason why you couldn’t hear him as well.”
Hermione’s hands tensed.
“He said the memory you used wouldn’t hold their attention while there was another one to give that was stronger still.”
Hermione looked down, going very red in the face.
“I thought it might be something like that.”
“Please, Hermione. Let me help you,” pleaded Harry. “I don’t know what it is you’re suffering, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you won’t tell me, let me call Tonks or McGonagall?”
Hermione shook her head no.
“How about something to help you sleep then? Hot chocolate? I could raid Uncle Vernon’s booze for some brandy.”
Hermione snorted and again shook her head.
“I’ve something upstairs, but a glass of water would be nice.”
Harry got the glass at once and helped Hermione upstairs to her bedroom. She must have seen some of the anguish in his face because before she closed the door she said, “I’ll be fine, Harry. I promise.”
The door closed with a soft click, leaving Harry standing there completely at a loss as to how to help her.
Hermione slept late the next morning, and it was Harry who briefed Moody on what the Dementor had said, although he didn’t mention anything about Hermione.
“Hm,” said Moody thoughtfully. “We need somewhere other than here that is under cover. How about Arrabella Figg’s place?”
“How will she feel about inviting a Dementor into her home?”
“Not best pleased, I’d imagine. Perhaps we shouldn’t tell her. Tell you what, I’ll discuss it with the others and get back to you.”
“Okay, thanks. There’s one more thing. Could you ask Tonks or Professor McGonagall to pop by to see Hermione?”
“Well, I’ll try to get a message to out but I know Tonks is on duty for the Ministry all day and McGonagall is in France. Is there a problem?”
“Yes, but I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“What about Molly or young Ginny?”
“Mrs Weasley might do,” said Harry slowly. “I’m just not sure, though. Actually, probably not. She might be annoyed that Hermione isn’t going to the wedding.”
“I’m sure Molly wouldn’t hold a grudge, especially if there really is a problem,” Moody said reassuringly. “I’ll ask her to be on duty this evening anyway. That way, she’ll be on hand if needed.”
Hermione got up at midday and managed to eat a light salad lunch, although she still looked pale. Even Aunt Petunia expressed concern for her.
After lunch Hermione insisted that they did a little practise for summoning the Dementor.
Harry wasn’t at all sure she was up to this, but joined her in the living room. Sat opposite each other at the dining table, Harry watched as she closed her eyes and concentrated.
A range of expressions passed over her face as she allowed herself to remember, the last of which seemed to be utter despair.
A heavy tear drop fell from her cheek and Harry gasped.
Hermione opened her eyes at once and in the moment their eyes met images flashed across his mind. The flashes ended almost the instant they had begun.
Hermione looked down, and he knew she was trying to prevent him seeing anything more, just as he had done with Snape.
Harry said nothing, but he tried hard to recall the images.
He had absolutely no idea how he had been able to perform Legilimency, but he was sure he had just witnessed something of what was troubling her. He had, after all, been desperate to know what was troubling her. Perhaps that had helped subconsciously.
There had been a bright green flash to begin with. Unmistakably it had been a killing curse, but fired by whom and who was the intended victim?
There had been a woman’s scream. It was someone he didn’t know.
Then there had been the image of a dark cloak being thrown over her head. Before it went dark, Hermione had been looking at a skirting board. Above, the wallpaper was a flowery pattern and the carpet was a mottled red. He recognised none of it.
Harry came back to himself and realised Hermione was looking at him intently, perhaps wondering if he had seen anything. What should he tell her?
This question was answered as soon as he thought it. He would tell her the truth, whatever the consequences.
Hermione looked away again.
“Ready to try again?” she asked.
“Sure,” he replied, noting that she wasn’t risking eye-contact again.
Instead of practising as he knew he ought, Harry went over the images again in his mind. Gradually they became a little clearer, and he realised that something of the person who threw the cloak could also be seen.
After a while, he realised that he had seen their boots. They were brown leather boots with matching leather straps.
Harry sighed with frustration, realising that he not only didn’t recognise the boots but he also had no idea if the wearer was male or female. They looked on the big side for a woman and small for a man.
He was confused about the skirting board too. It was almost as if she had been looking down so she wouldn’t have to see something else.
“Are all the families loyal to Voldemort now?”
The Order has arranged for a back room at Mrs Figg's house to be magically expanded so they can practise summoning the Dementor leader. They learn that not all the Dementors are on Voldemort's side.
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